President Obama's decision to open up off-shore drilling drew mixed reaction.
From Green Right Now Reports
Environmental groups were taken aback by President Obama’s announcement this week that the U.S. would open vast areas along the Eastern Seaboard, in the Gulf of Mexico and selected areas of the Alaskan Arctic to off-shore oil and gas leasing. Reaction ranged from pure outrage to a more measured response from big groups that clearly want to maintain good relations with a White House that has pitched some wins their way.
The World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, for instance, issued straightforward statements saying they were not happy with the new drilling, but pleased with restrictions in some areas and glad that the administration is pursuing oil conservation measures like new higher mileage and stricter emissions standards for cars.
The best line:
“Short of sending Sarah Palin back to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the Obama administration could not have come up with a more efficient extinction plan for the polar bear,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.
We thought it best you see the official responses in full so we’re reprinted the various statements here:
From Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity:
“Today’s announcement is unfortunately all too typical of what we have seen so far from President Obama – promises of change, a year of ‘deliberation,’ and ultimately, adoption of flawed and outdated Bush policies as his own. Rather than bring about the change we need, this plan will further our national addiction to oil and contribute to global warming, while at the same time directly despoiling the habitat of polar bears, endangered whales, and other imperiled wildlife.
“Oil development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, home to all of America’s polar bears, is strongly opposed by conservation groups as no technologies exist to clean up oil spills in icy waters. Oil development in the Beaufort Sea would likely also be visible from the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“Today’s plan would allow existing leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas to move forward while the remainder of these areas would be subject to additional leasing following further environmental studies. The only bright spot in today’s announcement was that a lease sale proposed in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, within critical habitat for the North Pacific right whale, the world’s most endangered whale, would be cancelled. However, important habitat for the similarly endangered North Atlantic right whale would be opened in its stead.
“The Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations filed a court challenge to the 2007-2012 offshore oil leasing plan issued by the Bush administration. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set aside that plan for failing to adequately assess the environmental impacts of opening up areas off Alaska to drilling. Today’s announcement comes partially in response to that court ruling. Earlier this year, Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar approved Shell’s plans to drill this summer on existing leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi. Litigation against that plan is ongoing.
“Short of sending Sarah Palin back to Alaska to personally club polar bear cubs to death, the Obama administration could not have come up with a more efficient extinction plan for the polar bear.”
NRDC Responds to President Obama’s Energy Announcements
Statement by Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“We need comprehensive solutions for America’s clean energy future — and more offshore drilling in our oceans does not fit in that picture. Offshore drilling carries significant environmental risks without truly increasing our energy independence. There are many areas that are just too sensitive for offshore drilling, which threatens our oceans, sea life and coastal communities; including economic interests in these areas. America has better solutions than to drill in our pristine waters — which needs more research and investigation — and we should be pursuing these options.
“On the other hand, the new vehicle standards are a giant step forward on our country’s journey towards a cleaner and more secure future. These standards will help consumers and businesses — while cutting carbon pollution to protect the environment. The new fleet of hybrid vehicles announced today will also help cut our oil dependence and cut pollution. And we are encouraged by the administration’s support for investments in carbon capture and storage and in advanced biofuels.
“In order to fully achieve a clean energy future, we need the administration and Congress to enact truly comprehensive energy and climate policies that will cut our dependence on oil, limit carbon pollution and create jobs. We now look to the Senate to advance comprehensive legislation — that is being crafted by Senators Kerry, Graham, Lieberman and others — to make our country stronger, safer and more secure.”
Statement from World Wildlife Fund’s Vice President for Arctic and Marine Policy Bill Eichbaum:
“Today’s decision accurately reflects the extraordinary value of Bristol Bay to the American people. It is not only one of America’s great natural treasures; it also is the engine that drives the Bering Sea fishery, the single largest source of seafood in the United States that generates nearly $2 billion per year for Alaska’s economy. The Administration now needs to safeguard this resource permanently.
“WWF is also pleased that additional planned lease sales will not go forward in America’s broader Arctic waters, namely the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, under the current 2007-2012 leasing program. We remain concerned, however, that exploratory drilling in these sensitive places will be allowed to continue. It is our sincere hope that Secretary Salazar will follow the science that clearly outlines the enormous risks we face if these areas are exploited before important environmental safeguards are put in place.
“The hard lessons of the Exxon Valdez oil spill still haunt us. And, as we saw with the recent catastrophe in Australia’s Timor Sea, even the latest advances in technology cannot prevent a major spill from happening or get it cleaned up quickly enough to prevent a natural disaster.
“The dramatic consequences of climate change have made the Arctic increasingly fragile to other threats. It is critical that the Senate pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year and, while such action may require a compromise on offshore drilling, we cannot further compromise the Arctic ecosystems that we depend on for jobs, seafood and our natural heritage.”
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:
“These standards are a grand slam: billions of dollars in consumer savings at the pump, a huge reduction in oil use, significant cuts in pollution, and they will help a more sustainable domestic auto industry thrive. Sierra Club pushed hard to pass the California law that set the stage for these standards, our members pushed for the Calfornia standards to be adopted in more than a dozen other states across the country, and we defended them all the way to the Supreme Court. The ambitious standards being finalized today were made possible by these years of hard work and we are delighted to see them become the law of the land.
“Today’s new national standards are the result of state leadership and the leadership of President Obama and his cabinet, including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Driving vehicle standards forward to 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 is a result of President Obama’s work to bring together automakers, state leaders, environmentalists, and labor unions to secure a win for the nation.
“The new tailpipe standards, promulgated under the Clean Air Act, demonstrate the Act’s power to spur innovation, fuel economic growth, protect our air, make America more energy independent, and fight global warming. Instead of using this and other important tools in the Clean Air Act to accelerate our transition to a clean energy future, some in Congress want to slam on the brakes and actually shift the country into reverse by gutting the Clean Air Act. We cannot allow this happen. It would be bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and bad for America. The only people it would be good for are Big Oil, big polluters, and America’s enemies overseas who continue to profit from our dangerous dependence on oil.”
Statement of Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign Director Steve Cochran:
“Without comprehensive climate and energy legislation, the failed, narrow energy policies of the past will continue. We believe the President’s announcement demonstrates his continued commitment to work towards the bi-partisan majority that will be necessary to pass climate legislation in the Senate.
“The President has put forward his plans on offshore drilling after hearing from key Senators that it’s a necessary step to succeed in passing climate and energy legislation in the Senate.
“Now it’s time for the supporters of new drilling and an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy to step forward and support comprehensive legislation, including a limit on carbon pollution. And the President must provide the leadership and drive to make that happen.
“From an environmental prospective, we believe any exploration and drilling must be carried out with effective environmental safeguards, including protection of key coastal and ocean habitats. Explicit funding for repair of the damage caused by historic energy extraction and transportation infrastructure must be addressed as well.”